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The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes Trailer Teases a Young, Scheming Future Dictator

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes finally has a trailer. As part of its CinemaCon presentation in Las Vegas, Lionsgate dropped the first footage for The Hunger Games prequel movie, which charts the younger days of Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth), long before he becomes the antagonist — the Capitol president — in the original Jennifer Lawrence-led trilogy. Francis Lawrence returns to direct this standalone arc, from a script by Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine) and Michael Lesslie (Assassin’s Creed). Of course, the upcoming film is adapted directly from Suzanne Collins’ 2020 novel.

The trailer for The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes takes us back 64 years before the events of The Hunger Games, during the 10th edition of the annual Hunger Games, as head gamemaker Dr. Volumnia Gaul (Viola Davis), introduces the creator of the games. “I have summoned you all here for the 10th Annual Reaping Ceremony, in which we choose two children from each District to fight to the death in the Hunger Games,” Dean Casca Highbottom (Peter Dinklage) says.

As we’re introduced to Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zegler), the girl tribute from the impoverished District 12, Highbottom changes the rules, asking Snow and other Capitol youth to mentor the competitors. The 18-year-old Snow has been looking for a chance at redemption since his once-proud lineage fell from grace in a post-war Capitol.

“You really want to take care of me in that arena?”, a desperate Lucy asks. “Start by thinking I can actually win.” The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes trailer then introduces Lucky Flickerman (Jason Schwartzman), the first-ever host of the dangerous games, who is seen counting down to the second the round begins. Meanwhile, Dr. Gaul has a private talk with Snow, describing the manipulative effects of The Hunger Games — the terror of becoming prey could easily turn someone into a predator. “See how quickly civilisation disappears?”, she says, as we’re treated to visuals of the participants trying to stab one another.

“There’s a natural goodness built into us all,” Lucy tells Snow, as the pair venture into the forest. “We can step across that line into evil, or not.” Over the course of the film, Snow will be caught between two forces of nature: the charming Lucy and the villainous Dr. Gaul, eventually shaping his nature for the years to come. Director Lawrence alluded in an earlier interview that Lucy is meant to add a type of balance to the brutal world of Panam, thanks to her melodious singing voice which was shown off during the reaping ceremony, turning heads. Snow believes that pairing up with Lucy is a great idea, as they could unite their instincts for showmanship and newfound political savvy to better his position.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes trailer also points towards some horrific contraptions Dr. Gaul has in store for the participants, including a tank of rainbow/ oil spill-coloured snakes. Some students at the university, understandably seem distressed about the cruelty of the games. The film also stars Euphoria-fame Hunter Schafer as Coriolanus’s older cousin Tigris Snow, and Burn Gorman (Enola Holmes) as Commander Hoff.

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes releases November 17 in theatres worldwide.

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